Crew Dragon astronauts arrive at Kennedy Space Center for launch preps – Spaceflight Now

European House Company astronaut Thomas Pesquet, Crew-2 pilot Megan McArthur, Crew-2 commander Shane Kimbrough, and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide arrived at NASA’s Kennedy House Heart on Friday for launch preparations. Credit score: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

An all-veteran crew of 4 astronauts jetted into NASA’s Kennedy House Heart Friday for the ultimate few days of rehearsals, briefings, and leisure earlier than blasting off Thursday certain for a six-month stint on the Worldwide House Station.

Led by Shane Kimbrough, a veteran of area shuttle and Soyuz flights, the astronauts arrived on the Florida shortly earlier than 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) Friday a Gulfstream jet from their residence base in Houston.

Kimbrough will probably be joined by pilot Megan McArthur, a NASA astronaut, and mission specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Company and the European House Company, respectively.

NASA, JAXA, and ESA officers greeted the astronauts after they arrived at Kennedy on Friday.

The 4 astronauts are scheduled to launch Thursday at 6:11 a.m. EDT (1011 GMT) aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft. After driving a Falcon 9 into orbit, the Dragon spaceship will fly on autopilot for the one-day journey to the area station, culminating in a docking at 5:30 a.m. EDT (0930 GMT) subsequent Friday, assuming an on-time liftoff.

“It’s superior being at Kennedy House Heart, particularly on launch week,” mentioned Kimbrough, a 53-year-old former Military helicopter pilot. “It’s positively getting actual.”

“As we got here on on the airplane over right here, we obtained to fly by the pad and see our rocket on the brink of go,” McArthur mentioned. “That’s simply an incredible feeling.”

Kimbrough is a veteran of two earlier area missions, together with a flight on the area shuttle Endeavour in 2008 and a long-duration expedition on the area station in 2016 and 2017. He’s spent 189 days in orbit, and completed six spacewalks in his spaceflight profession.

This mission, often known as Crew-2, is the second common crew rotation flight to the area station utilizing SpaceX’s -rated capsule. Though this would be the third time astronauts have flown to area on a Crew Dragon — together with an illustration flight final yr — Kimbrough mentioned he nonetheless considers his mission a take a look at flight.

“I believe all of them, till we get a number of years beneath our belt, ought to be thought of take a look at flights,” he mentioned. “We’re very assured within the group that obtained us prepared, which can be engaged on the automobiles. We don’t have any points with that, and we’re able to fly.”

The Crew-2 astronauts converse with reporters Friday on the Kennedy House Heart in Florida. Credit score: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

The Crew-2 pilot is Megan McArthur, 49, who has one area shuttle flight in her profession. McArthur was an oceanographer earlier than her choice as a NASA astronaut. She flew on the area shuttle Atlantis on a 2009 servicing mission to the Hubble House Telescope. This will probably be her first mission to the Worldwide House Station.

McArthur’s first mission lasted lower than 13 days, a fraction of the time she’ll spend in orbit this time.

“I believe it’s going to be just like the distinction between visiting a rustic for a enterprise journey, after which possibly shifting there longer-term,” McArthur mentioned Friday.

Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and French-born European House Company astronaut Thomas Pesquet can even fly on the Crew-2 mission. Hoshide, 52, is an aerospace engineer with many years of expertise in Japan’s area program. That is his third spaceflight, after a mission on the area shuttle Discovery in 2008 after which spent 4 months on the area station in 2012.

Pesquet is a 43-year-old former Air France airline pilot with one earlier journey to the area station beneath his belt. He lived and labored on the area station in 2016 and 2017 after driving to the advanced on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, however this will probably be first launch on a Crew Dragon from Florida’s House Coast.

The Crew-2 mission would be the first time an ESA astronaut has launched on a brand new U.S. business crew spacecraft. NASA has multibillion-dollar contracts with SpaceX and Boeing to ferry astronauts to and from the area station on Dragon and Starliner capsules.

“I believe we’re residing within the golden age of ,” Pesquet mentioned Friday. “There’s by no means been this some ways to enter area.”

The arrival of the Crew-2 astronauts in Florida on Friday got here hours earlier than the deliberate departure of two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut from the area station on a Soyuz spacecraft. Outing area station commander Sergey Ryzhikov, flight engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will experience the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft again to Earth, focusing on a landing in Kazakhstan at 12:56 a.m. EDT (0456 GMT).

The touchdown will shut out 185 days in orbit for Ryzhikov, Kud-Sverchkov, and Rubins. A recent three-man crew arrived on the station April 9 on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft to exchange them.

Kimbrough and his crewmates will change the Crew-1 astronauts on the Worldwide House Station, who arrived in November on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft. If the Crew-2 mission blasts off Thursday and arrives on the station Friday, the Crew-1 astronauts are scheduled to swimsuit up and undock from the orbiting analysis advanced April 28, then head for a splashdown off the coast of Florida later the identical day.

However first, SpaceX groups at Kennedy will end preparations on the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft set to ship the Kimbrough and firm to the area station.

Early Saturday, SpaceX plans to load liquid propellants into the Falcon 9 rocket for a test-firing of its 9 Merlin fundamental engines on pad 39A. Then groups will drain propellants from the Falcon 9 in preparation for one more countdown rehearsal Sunday, when the Crew-2 astronauts will journey to pad 39A in Tesla SUVs to their spacecraft in a dry run of launch day actions.

The rehearsal will familiarize the astronauts with their day-of-launch timeline, which can see the crew get up late the night time earlier than liftoff and swimsuit up for his or her mission within the predawn hours earlier than heading to the pad.

A Launch Readiness Assessment is deliberate Tuesday to debate any remaining unresolved points earlier than launch Thursday.

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Observe Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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